Most people with children are satisfied more when their children are happy even if they’re not. So it comes with no surprise that the hype over 3D pens has driven many parents into being curious as to whether they can purchase this 21st century wonder as a creative toy for their children. The question that parents always ask first is “how safe are they for kids?” Well, first and foremost let’s make one thing clear; a 3D pen is not a toy! But read on to see how safe it is for your child.
You should ask…
3D pens, also called handheld 3D printers are somewhat like traditional pens, except that in place of ink or lead they eject a plastic liquefied material that becomes solid on exposure to air. These pens have a heating mechanism that heats up plastic filaments fed into it and let it be extruded from the pens nozzle as liquid material. Creating objects with a 3D pen on paper is quite easy. However the really life-like images we mostly see showcased are drawn on air and for one to be able to do this they must spend hours practicing and have patience while at it. So the question should be from what age can a kid be patient enough to learn how to handle and doodle with a 3D pen?
3D pens come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Most of which look really attractive for children and give the notion of being child friendly. However, the plastic-like material that is fed into the 3D pen is heated by a function part of the pen near the metallic tip. Therefore the tip can get really hot as you continue to use the pen, although there are pens that are designed with a mechanism for lowering the temperature when the pen is on standby. However, if the nozzle of the pen accidentally touches any object, cloth or skin, it causes burns. Children starting to learn drawing might be reckless or negligent and this can therefore pose as a safety concern for them.
The mode of power supply by most 3D pens in the market is from a 110 to 220 volt power outlet. The internal mechanism of the pen will slow this down to about 12 volts. These pens are therefore designed with a wire or cord attached at the rear of the pen that connects it to the power. Most of these cords are really strong or made of high grade plastic, a safety mechanism put in place by manufacturers. There are also 3D pens that use rechargeable batteries. However, what you should consider is how easy it is for a child to remove the battery or is the kid likely to tear or pull the cord when using the pen?
Since children are extremely sensitive people, it I also important to evaluate the materials use in manufacture of objects that you give to them. The most common type of materials used in 3D pens are plastic (PLA and ABS) and in unique designs resins are used. The plastic is fed into the pen when hard, but it’s melted by the pens mechanism, ejected in a liquefied form which hardens on contact with air. Adults are often advised to take caution when handling this hot molten plastic, and asked to desist from touching it until it’s cooled, but how easy is it for children to follow such instruction?
How Child Friendly Is The 3D Pen?
Most 3D pens are made from material that’s a non-electric conductor and are resistant to most harmful elements. The material is often highly flexible and can be moved around easily when drawing. The lengths of the cords for those that use electricity are generally fair although this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, these cords also have a tendency to tangle as you maneuver it which could lead to a messy drawing and inconvenience even for adult users.
UV 3D Pens
The newest thing that everyone is talking about in regards to 3D pens is the invention of the (UV) 3D pens. These have a different approach of cooling different from the normal ones. They have a special resin that cools down when in contact with UV rays that are ejected by the pen. With this new invention, manufacturers are now doing away with electric cords. Consequently hot nozzles (tips) are no more and the time taken for the resin to cool is also shorter. However, research on the safety of UV-based 3D pens has not been concluded.
In light of all the above concerns, it comes out clearly that 3D pens, however much of a craze they are, would not be safe for children up to a certain age. Young kids can’t be trusted with the pen as they could pull on the cord and risk electric shock, they could touch the hot metallic tip and get burned or they would generally cause a mess with the molten material. Mature kids can use these pens after being explained to how it works and safety risk. However, even after comprehensive training on using the pen, they should still use it under adult supervision.
Art and craft has been taken to a whole new level by the invention of 3D pens. Having a 3-dimessional life-like image is now easier than sketching a cat on paper. It is not a mistake to want your kids on this 3D train; however you should make sure they are under adult supervision whenever they are doodling, no matter what age they are.